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  Editorial Issue 64, June 2008   
Lambrusco? Why not?Lambrusco? Why not?  Contents 
Issue 63, May 2008 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 65, Summer 2008

Lambrusco? Why not?


 The wines of Italy take advantage of a unique heritage, a heritage made of hundreds of autochthonous grapes which since many centuries color the vineyards of this country. Not always these indigenous grapes have been favored by the choices of producers. Despite many are trying since many years the revaluation of these varieties, there are still many producers who prefer using the grapes considered as international, mainly of French origin, who use both alone as well as blended with the grapes of their territories. It may also be a matter of “fashion” - or simply a commercial matter - but if we consider the wines currently produced in Italy, most of them make use of “international” grapes. It is very evident and it would make no use to deny this: names like Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon - as to mention some of the most common ones - have a certain charm on consumers and on the psychology of senses, indeed, they frequently represent the winning point for a commercial success.


 

 Italian autochthonous grapes are therefore not suited for making commercial and interesting wines for consumers? Of course not. There are so many examples in Italy - from Vallée d'Aoste to Sicily - of excellent wines which can witness the excellence of Italian autochthonous grapes. However, among the many indigenous grapes of this country, there undoubtedly are positions of privilege, autochthonous grapes having a high reputation and fame, and others - and most of the times unjustly - destined to solely play the role of the ugly duckling, grapes suited for the production of “ordinary” wines only having little or no enological interest. This consideration is, of course, highly disputable. How many secondary grapes and of low enological interest have been transformed into real main actors thanks to the job of “visionary” wine makers and “stubborn” producers, by relying - first of all - to quality criteria and obtaining excellent results? Quality. A word which can make the difference in everything, including wine.

 It should be said - for the sake of truth - many autochthonous grapes, too much for sure, have been literally abused, not only with the purpose of making low quality products, but also for making huge quantities of wines: the more there is, the more can be sold. Because of this speculative behavior, many grapes have never been used for quality production, while favoring a denigratory culture towards these grapes, therefore making consumers believe “certain” grapes are only suited for making bad wine. Autochthonous Italian grapes which are unjustly considered “lesser”, both by consumers as well as wine making industries are many, unjustly condemned to the role of Cinderella with no hope to show their real value. Among the many grapes which could be mentioned as an example, one in particular is considered by many years a lesser grape and that recently - luckily - some producers are trying to revaluate: Lambrusco.

 We guess many of our readers, by reading the name “Lambrusco”, are thinking about very ordinary wine, sometimes exaggeratedly sparkling and with an evident sweet taste, something to be considered as a wine with no hope and which will never be able to show anything recalling quality and surprise. True, and it makes no sense to deny it: most of the wines produced with Lambrusco grapes do not certainly bring thoughts of quality of something capable of expressing quality. However it is also true generalization only brings the raising of prejudices and does not allow the understanding of things, most of the times keeps people away from the attempt of understanding things. If it is true most of Lambrusco wines do not certainly give this grape a dignity, it should also be said there are producers who have obtained excellent results, therefore showing Lambrusco can really make great things, just like any other grape. And when quality meets Lambrusco, the result is amazing and in a moment that not very representing ocean of Lambrusco is forgotten.

 Lambrusco - and with this we are considering all Lambrusco varieties - is not a lesser grape and it certainly deserves more than we usually find in bottles. Maybe the fact most of the Lambrusco is produced in the slightly sparkling style, does not help to revaluate this grape. In fact, if it is true bubbles are considered noble in sparkling wines - in particular in “classic method” wines - they become not noble at all when slightly sparkling wines are mentioned. This is also because of the “disputable” methods used for the production of low quality slightly sparkling wines; the fact Lambrusco is “frizzante” (Italian for “slightly sparkling”) does not help to make things better. Slightly sparkling, sweet or dry, Lambrusco - thanks to the job of some serious producers - is showing to be a grape capable of making good quality wines. Indeed, Lambrusco grape has everything in order to make a good wine, although the tradition of its land wants this wine to be always frizzante, that is slightly sparkling.

 Also etymology seems to connect, according to some theories, Lambrusco to bubbles. The name Lambrusco could in fact come from Latin Lab, meaning lip, and ruscus, that is something pungent to the palate, that is slightly sparkling. Another theory believes Lambrusco comes from Latin Labrum, that is margin, as it was a vine typically and wildly growing in the borders of fields - that is a wild variety - in the parts less used for cultivation. Lambrusco is mainly common in Emilia Romagna - in particular in the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia - and in Lombardy, in the province of Mantua. The most important varieties are Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa and Lambrusco Salamino, however the family is completed by Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Montericco and Lambrusco Viadanese, as well as the less known varieties Lambrusca di Alessandria, Lambrusco a foglia frastagliata and the now extinguished Lambrusco Oliva. Each of these varieties, in their typical areas of cultivation, produces very interesting wines in case quality is the primary factor, unfortunately rare and adopted by few producers. Lambrusco is a grape - and a wine - which must certainly be understood and rediscovered, capable of giving fine emotions just like other famous and renowned wines. Lambrusco? Certainly yes! Producers and wine makers, it is your turn: give Lambrusco the dignity it deserves!

 




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  Editorial Issue 64, June 2008   
Lambrusco? Why not?Lambrusco? Why not?  Contents 
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